Andrea Jube – Valor, 02/11/2016
President Dilma Rousseff bets on the fight against the Zika virus and the microcephaly epidemic as a vaccine to contain the progress of Operation Car Wash investigations on former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. In the opinion of Rousseff aides, the affected image of her predecessor hits the president directly and makes her more vulnerable to the impeachment that although asleep, it has not been buried. She will command the mega-operation scheduled for next Saturday, when 220,000 military officials will take the streets to battle the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
Presidential aides heard by Valor recognize that the deconstruction of Mr. Lula’s image spills in Ms. Rousseff, although she has chosen not to make a public defense of her predecessor. “Lula is her political guarantor and of our government,” says an advisor close to President Rousseff. For him, with Mr. Lula weakened politically, the government is further weakened.
The Car Wash siege of Mr. Lula has narrowed down in recent days. On the eve of Carnival, Judge Sérgio Moro authorized the Federal Police to open a specific inquiry to investigate the connection of a ranch in Atibaia, São Paulo, visited by the former president, with construction company OAS, one of the targets of the operation. The property is registered in the name of two partners of Fábio Luís Lula da Silva, son of Mr. Lula: Fernando Bittar and Jonas Suassuna, partners at Gamecorp, which renders services to telco Oi. None of them have commented the allegations yet.
Christopher Sabatini – Foreign Policy, 02/10/2016
In late 2014, Brazil seemed on the verge of a meltdown. Its economy had grown a mere 0.1 percent that year, as its currency (the real) dropped like a stone and business confidence plummeted. In response, in November of that year Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff turned to a Chicago-trained technocrat — a common antidote among Latin American leaders. Domestic and international investors welcomed the appointment of Joaquim Levy, a former banker and fiscal hawk, to lead the finance ministry, but they acknowledged he would have his work cut out for him. If Levy hoped to enact the drastic fiscal cuts and structural reforms needed to fix the careening economy, he would have to first overcome the resistance of not only a fractious congress, but also many members of Rousseff’s leftist Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) and her cabinet.
Success would ultimately elude Levy. In December 2015, he quit, handing the ministry over to Nelson Barbosa, another well-respected economist. But Barbosa lacks Levy’s credibility among investors. And the task before him has only become more unenviable. He will have to push through his predecessor’s stalled reforms, while turning around an economy that suffered a GDP contraction of 3.7 percent in 2015, staving off potential debt crisis, stabilizing the real, and avoiding what analysts predict could become Brazil’s worst crisis since 1901.
The first step to fixing Brazil’s crisis will have to involve recognizing that the rot goes much deeper than it might seem. Brazil’s troubles began with the downturn in the global commodity markets, which once bolstered the country. But the roots of the malaise trace much farther, to a historically autarkic economic model, a political system hobbled and corrupted by party factionalism and localism, and a constitutional carnaval of guarantees for social rights and payouts.
Jonathan Watts – The Guardian, 01/12/2016
When it comes to mood making in Brazil, there are few institutions that can match the samba schools of Rio de Janeiro.
For a week each year at Carnival, they embody exuberance with a pulsating parade of spectacular floats, gyrating dancers and bateria throbbing with the rhythms of tamborims, chocalhos, surdos and drums.
But even these professionally upbeat performers are wondering how long the party can last as the country’s economy suffers what is forecast to be the deepest recession in more than a century.
A poll published Saturday in Brazil gave a mild boost to the political survival prospects for President Dilma Rousseff, as she saw a slight bounce in her approval ratings, halting what has been an almost continuous slide for most of the year.
The number of Brazilians who rated Rousseff’s administration “bad” or “very bad” fell to 65 percent, from 71 percent in August, according to a Datafolha poll conducted from Dec. 16 to 17 and published by newspaper Folha de S. Paulo.
Rousseff is under pressure as Brazil is undergoing its worst recession in at least 25 years and a corruption scandal at state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA which has led to the arrest of numerous high-profile executives and politicians.
Holly Ellyat – CNBC, 12/21/2015
The resignation of Brazil’s pro-austerity finance minister has left markets on edge as amid concerns over whether his replacement will continue with a program of fiscal consolidation.
On Friday, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff replaced Finance Minister Joaquim Levy, a fiscal conservative appointed just over a year ago, with a close ally, Budget and Planning Minister Nelson Barbosa, the Brazilian leader’s office said in a statement.
Levy’s resignation was not a surprise to many analysts as his austerity plan had come under increasing criticism, but markets did not take kindly to the news of his replacement with stocks falling 3 percent and the Brazilian real declining 2.6 percent against the dollar.
Mauricio Savarese, Brad Brooks – AP, 12/16/2015
Brazil’s attorney general went to the Supreme Court on Wednesday seeking to strip the leader of the House of Deputies of his seat.
House Speaker Eduardo Cunha is the nemesis of embattled and unpopular President Dilma Rousseff — and earlier this month began impeachment proceedings against her.
But Cunha faces federal charges of accepting at least $5 million in bribes in connection to a widespread kickback scandal at state-run oil company Petrobras.
Anthony Boadle – Reuters, 12/10/2015
Brazilian lawmakers almost came to blows on Thursday in a heated committee hearing that failed for a sixth time to decide whether to investigate lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha for lying about his bank accounts in Switzerland.
Tempers frayed when Cunha’s opponents on the committee called for a plenary vote in the lower house to remove Cunha as speaker, amid mounting frustration at what his critics say is his use of bureaucratic trickery to obstruct its hearings.
Cunha and his allies succeeded on Wednesday in ousting the committee’s rapporteur, who had recommended launching an investigation into the speaker. His replacement cannot now report to the committee before Tuesday, with only one week left before the Christmas recess.